“Doe; a deer. A female deer. Ray; a drop of golden sun.” – Oscar Hammerstein II.
I guess readers of my travel blog may be surprised that I went on the Sound of Music Tour. You might know that I’m not really big on films, and could count on both hands the number of times I have watched a film in a cinema in my life (7 times). But when I realised I had 4 – 5 days in and around Salzburg and that the world famous Sound of Music tours start from here, I got this tour on my list straight away and I’m pretty glad I did! The Sound of Music is simply the most successful musical of all time (a fact that remains to this day). My sister, Cathy is a huge fan of the Sound of Music, so every bit along the journey I was also thinking of her, hoping she will come here someday and do the same tour.
I have actually backpacked through a load of film and TV sets on my travels, whether nonchalantly or not. For example:
Petra in Jordan: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Baku in Azerbaijan: James Bond Oil Fields
Angkor Temples in Cambodia: Tomb Raider
Pin Oak Court in Melbourne, Australia: Neighbours
Munich Hofplatz: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Booking Your Sound of Music Tour with Panorama Tours
A few companies run Sound of Music tours and the activities and routes vary, but I totally recommend booking your tour with Panorama Tours. The reason being, they are the original Sound of Music tour company and they pack a lot into a 4 hour tour. I was based at the YoHo Hostel in Salzburg. If you stay there, you get a discount off the tour, normally 10%. While based in the city, a Salzburg Card is also worth picking up – saves you heaps of cash.
To book the tour, there are many ways to do it, internet, in person, through your hotel etc. Advance booking is better in peak season (hotter months), but for those who are spontaneous, you can also sometimes book on the day of the tour. As a long term traveller with a packed diary, I got mine booked in advance, so I wouldn’t miss it and could plan my other sightseeing moments around it.
I did the Original 1a tour, but there are others to choose from.
The original Sound of Music tour I did
Tour Times and Starting Point
The meeting point is at the Panorama Sightseeing Tours Office at Mirabell Platz in Salzburg, and the tour I was on started at 9 am. You can’t miss it – it’s on the corner beside the huge church!
Price varies of course, and as of April 2016, these were the details of the tour:
|Schedule:||09:15 AM and 02:00 PM|
|Meeting spot:||Salzburg Panorama Tours GmbH
Austria – 5020 Salzburg – Mirabellplatz
Tel: +43 662 883211-0 (Office)
Tel: +43 662 874029 (at the bus terminal)
Main Stops Along the Tour
So for all you film buffs and lovers of the joyful Sound of Music soundtrack, here are the main stops along the tour, time spent at each place can vary of course. The rest of the things we find out on the tour, I’ll leave them a secret until you do the tour yourself! I’ve put these locations in the order we did them in on my tour.
Our tour guide was Erik and he explained everything along the way as well as answering questions. It was really insightful and when you see each place, you will recognise them from the film.
1.The Leopoldskron Palace
This elaborate palace by a large pond/lake was used in the film. The thing is that some of the scenes were filmed to make it look like the Leopoldskron Palace entrance was right by the pond, where the children fell into the water. Clever filming was used, which you will learn about on the tour. You can get your photo taken in front of this distinctive palace, it’s also now a hotel.
2.The Lakes and Mountain View
At the same location, in the background we see lakes and mountains. This view was used a few times in the film. When the children come out of the water, you can clearly see it in the background.
3.The Nazi Walls
In the film, there is a point where the Captain of the Von Trapp family pulls down and rips a Nazi flag in disgust. This is one of the most memorable movie scenes of all time, just for that defining moment. Though, understandably we don’t see any Nazi flags, we do see the “Nazi walls” where the Nazis were waiting for the children. It’s at the back of a field and we don’t stop here, but we can see it clearly from the bus.
4.The Gazebo in Hellbrunn
This was one of the most photographed sections of the tour – the Gazebo in Hellbrunn, which is against a forest background and in the film, Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer sang “I am 16, Going on 17.” and kissed here in the rain. The gazebo at was actually moved here from its original location at Schloss Leopoldskron.
5.The Convent of Nonnberg
We see the Nunnery/Convent at Nonnberg, viewed from the bus on this tour. It’s a very distinctive building and is viewable from most parts of Salzburg city centre. In this convent the “real” Maria was a novice and also got married to Baron von Trapp, in the true story. The Convent sadly does not allow visits within its walls, but you are most welcomed to walk up to the front gate of their Gothic Church or to visit a church service during your time in the city.
6.Lake District Area of St. Gilgen
The next part of the drive features a picturesque drive through tremendous countryside. On the way, notably we pass the home of the famous energy drink, Red Bull. Then we pass Lake Fuschl and Lake Wolfgang, where panorama shots and scenes of the picnic were filmed.
Then we stop to admire the excellent viewpoint on to St. Gilgen and Lake Wolfgang. After that, it’s a drive to the town of Mondsee.
7.The Wedding Church in Mondsee
We stop at the idyllic town of Mondsee, deep in magnificent Austrian countryside. It is here, after a short walk that we see the elaborate Wedding Church, as seen in the film. It looks every bit as special as it does in the movie and we pose for photos in the Austrian countryside sunshine.
There are actually more things on Mondsee of relevant to the movie, but I won’t spoil them. This is a long stop of around an hour so you also have time to buy souvenirs (there are many shops) and to admire the streetlife here, have a coffee or some Apfel Strudel. Everything you buy here is not included in the tour price though.
Once we gather together again and board the bus in Mondsee, it’s straight back to Salzburg for the final stop on the tour. On the bus, many girls are singing the songs from the film, they are played over the speaker system and we also watch a cool exclusive Sound of Music documentary.
8.The Mirabell Garden of Salzburg
We arrive back at the place where we started, Mirabell Platz in Salzburg and we park the bus. We head across the street and round the corner to find the Mirabel Garden. This is the location where the children walked up steps and danced to the song “Do Ray Me!”.
The Pegasus Horse Fountain is also here and these are pretty gardens which were used regularly in filming.
After this stop, the tour comes to an end and we say our goodbyes to Erik, our guide. The bus was almost full and the tour was very insightful. This is an excellent tour and a cool experience, and I recommend it. My friend Lee Adams was also on the tour with me and loved it too. Neither of us are even huge film fans, nor regular watchers of musicals, so if we liked it, I’m sure all of you will like it. Salzburg, on top of all this is a beautiful city, well worth a few days. You should try and get a Salzburg Card to save money on the sights and transport and I hope to write more about Salzburg and Grodig very soon. #visitsalzburg
Here are some of my own videos from the Sound of Music Tour: